The attorneys for alleged sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell are using the sleaziest trick in the book to defend their client: blaming the victims by asking about any past drug use.
The Maxwell defense has repeatedly tried to undermine the credibility of Maxwell’s accusers by painting them as drug-addicted gold diggers, as evidenced by Maxwell attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca’s scathing cross-examinations, chronicled by the Inner City Press.
This tactic is unconscionable because many of the victims were children at the time they were allegedly recruited by Maxwell and sexually abused by her former boyfriend, convicted sex offender and alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
For the sake of argument, even if you are a money-grubbing drug addict, it does not mean you deserved to be sexually assaulted as a child for years.
In one exchange Wednesday, Pagliuca berated a witness named Carolyn who is identified in the indictment as “Minor Victim 4.”
The defense attorney posed a leading question by asking, “Do you recall abusing drugs from the age of 13?” The underlying assumption in the question was that Carolyn had abused drugs and this nullified her testimony.
Carolyn testified that Epstein had sexually abused her for years, starting when she was 14 years old, according to ABC News.
She told the jury that Maxwell groomed her and paid her to give sexual massages to Epstein.
Carolyn further testified that Maxwell called her to arrange these appointments and said she had gone to Epstein’s home “hundreds of times” over the next few years. On each occasion, she said, there was a sexual encounter.
On at least one of those occasions, Maxwell gave her $300 in cash, she said. “I was young, and $300 was a lot of money to me,” Carolyn testified.
During this line of questioning, Pagliuca badgered her about whether she had ever used cocaine at Epstein’s house.
She said “no” and fired back by asking, “What does any of this have to do with what I’m here for today? Ghislaine Maxwell fondled me and broke my soul.”
Pagliuca asked all of the victims if they ever used drugs in a lame effort to tarnish them.
This trashy tactic of suggesting that potential drug use discredits all of the victims’ testimonies has ignited backlash from both liberal and conservative media outlets.
“The Maxwell defense thus far has amounted to ‘memory, manipulation and money,’ as Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim put it during her opening statement,” left-wing CNN columnist and attorney Jill Filipovic wrote Tuesday.
“In other words: The women testifying can’t accurately remember 20-year-old events; they are manipulating the system by only coming forward recently; and they are chasing a payday, not justice,” she said.
“It’s an ugly set of accusations,” Filipovic wrote, “made uglier by the fact that Sternheim has shamed and blamed the women for their personal struggles and for making the same decisions made by sexual violence survivors the world over — namely, to hesitate before coming forward.”
It’s ironic for a piece at CNN to slam victim-shaming since the network’s marquee star, Chris Cuomo, allegedly used his media influence to dig up dirt on the numerous women who have accused his brother — disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — of sexual harassment.
Maxwell’s trial has featured nauseating evidence of a sordid scheme to recruit and sexually abuse girls — some as young as 14 — for Epstein and his celebrity friends between 1994 and 2004.
Epstein was a Democratic mega-donor who gave money to two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and liberal climate czar John Kerry.
Epstein died in federal prison in August 2019 before his trial, and the New York City medical examiner’s office said it was a suicide.
The fact that his death occurred while he was under heavy security spawned the conspiracy theory that he was murdered to prevent him from testifying against his powerful celebrity clientele.